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ICT and Additional Support Needs (redirected from ICT and Additonal Support Needs)

Page history last edited by olliebray@... 12 years, 4 months ago

This page has been locked and the contents passed to the Scottish Government for analysis. Thank you for all your contributions.


Given the huge impact that the effective use of ICT can make to both the learner and the teacher in the field of Additional Support Needs - whether this is within a mainstream or a more specialised setting - it is important that this particular area of education does not get overlooked or even lost in the current discussion. This page will allow suggestions, observations or thoughts specific to this area to be recorded from pupils, practitioners, parents and other interested parties. The proposed 5 objectives are given as headings, but please feel free to add your own.


The wiki is due to be locked down, so a big thanks to everyone who contributed to or commented on this page. For those who didn't know about it until too late, I can only apologise. I did my best to spread the word!




1 to 1 technology has the benefit of supporting pupils with ASN without them being singled out or 'special'.  Other pupils who wouldn't normally qualify for support can benefit from assistive software such as Read  & Write Gold




Teachers in Special Schools are very isolated from their colleagues in mainstream (and indeed, from their colleagues in other special schools).  In Secondary they are the sole teacher of their subject(s).  We need a way of supporting teachers and helping them have confidence to use assistive technology and software with their pupils.  For example, making sure they can add vocabulary to the AAC devices (eg Dynavox machines) of pupils in their class




Schools are finding as they embrace new technologies to support pupils and their learning needs that often they are using the technologies in ways that are unexpected, or unplanned for. This can lead into areas that are somewhat unclear from a legal standpoint - an excellent case in point is the purchase of apps to use on either the iPod touch, the iPhone or the iPad. Many schools are finding the licensing side of what they are doing very hard to understand (it is possible that app developers and even Apple themselves are struggling just as badly!), and with a lack of clear guidance and support from suppliers and/or their Local Authorities each school or individual is left to find their own 'work-around'. Clearly this is not a good situation to be in, particularly where Local Authorities, schools or individual educators may be leaving themselves open to prosecution or subject to a fine. As such technologies are only likely to become more commonplace in schools, this is an issue that surely needs some kind of national guidance.




Special Schools generally have very close links with parents so have a different starting point from many mainstream schools. Parents of pupils with additional support needs are generally very much involved in their child's education and are keen to find solutions to the difficulties they may be having to access education / communication. However parents often need support to enable their child to make use of any technology that may have been recommended so that it can be as useful at home or in the community as it could be in school.



Glow v1, in common with many LA networks, was not very easy to log in to for users with ASN (or even Early Years pupils). Both the usernames and the passwords tend to be made for administrative ease rather than scaffolding learners and have little context. Whilst the password can be made into whatever you want - providing it meets the complexity rules - after a while it needs to be changed again, and again, and again. Obviously for some learners with ASN this creates a big enough barrier to prevent them accessing these resources/networks at all, whilst the enforced changes can be enough to put other learners off  using them again. Class teachers, and even school ICT co-ordinators often seem to have little chance to make necessary changes due to the centralised nature of the IT network management. Any future developments should look to address this, creating appropriate login interfaces, such as those suggested by Sean Farrell and John Johnston, and making sure that interfaces have a degree of customisation built in, and available at the class teacher level rather than needing senior administrative privileges to make such changes. 


It doesn't take much for hardware to not be used well by pupils with ASN or be inaccessible.  For example IWBs installed too high for pupils or not accessible for wheelchair users, or AAC devices taking 5-10 minutes to start up so by the time it does the conversation has moved on and the moment gone.  There needs to be support teams at Council and National level giving advice to special and mainstream schools on technology and software that they might be unaware about.  For example, for a similar price to an IWB and projector schools could purchase an interactive table that can also flip up and be a whiteboard.


Tablet devices such as iPads are seen as expensive luxuries however they can save money and provide better access.  For example, an AAC device costs around £6500.  A tablet with a rugged case and AAC software costs £800.  Unfortunately because tablets can do things other than just providing speech for the user they don't qualify for the same funding as dedicated AAC devices.  Yet a tablet device can support learners in other ways such as providing searchable access to textbooks and websites, giving the pupil access to a huge range of educational apps, etc.   <--- I would agree with this point wholly. One local authority I worked for were rather unsupportive of the school bringing in iPod touches or iPads as they considered them to be almost 'luxury' purchases. They couldn't get past that, to see the truth that you could probably get 5 iPads and associated software for the price of one traditional AAC device.





Comments (3)

Iain Hallahan said

at 3:09 pm on Oct 7, 2011

A comment supplied by email from a teacher in Argyll & Bute:

whatever should have happened re communication, you should know that some people will have had no knowledge of this. I've forwarded the route through which it got to me by chance for your information. I have no idea where the original info would have been generated from....
This is the last day of my term and I just don't have time to do it justice I'm afraid.

A quick comment - thinking of the schools in my area and youngsters with additional support needs -
technical support is vital
teachers are willing and try their best but youngsters involvement with ICT varies dependent on the skills of one adult
if things don't work first few times teachers give up
some children still don't like using anything that's different to their peers
not many teachers really using Glow yet
cost of specialist acess tools high
CALL has been very helpful, loans are a great idea

Kate Farrell said

at 12:04 am on Oct 9, 2011

See http://www.seanfarrell.co.uk/glow/ for ideas on improving the login process for early years pupils and those with additional support needs

Kate Farrell said

at 4:05 am on Oct 10, 2011

As a parent I find it quite overwhelming trying to programme in new vocabulary and news into my son's AAC device. I get too frustrated with it (and I'm a Computing teacher during the day!) so I can see why so many parents get the device home and it never gets turned on. I have found it easy to use a communication program called Pictello though - I take photos on my phone during the weekend, I can then create a story of the weekend with my son, and he can then go into school and tell the staff and his class about it using his iPad. It is vital to get ICT solutions that are easy to use and adapt as it needs to be used by parents and teachers, none of whom have lots of spare time!

If we get this right - the right technology, support and training for everyone involved - it will have a huge and profound effect on the learners lives. It can change someone being able to just communicate basic needs to being able to communicate 'normally', ie talk about whatever they want whenever they want, and to gossip with their pals! It will make the difference between a learner going on to just survive on benefits to getting the job they want and being a useful and contributing member of society.

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